Position of Hands in Salah- The Wahhabi Fallacy.

Tying Hands on chest in Salah- A critical analysis of the Hadith of Wa’il ibn Hujr in Sahih of Ibn Khuzaima.

Wahhabism, the ultra conservative sect which claim to follow “True Islam” of the Salaf have left no part of religion where they have not innovated something new, mainly in order to look different from those whom they consider as deviants. Unfortunately for them, they have turned out to be the biggest innovators in Islam, walking in the footsteps of Khawarij and taking a total different path than that of Salaf As Salih. One of the most absurd innovation of theirs is tying hands on the chest during Namaz. Neither the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, nor any of his pious successors رضوان الله يجمعن have tied their hands towards/on the chest during Namaz.

Note: Many people might question that, “Why women are instructed to tie their hands on chest if it was not done by the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم? The answer to that is, The Prophet himself had instructed the women to do so. It is also proven through the amal of many Sahabiya and Umm Al Momineen Bibi Aisha (رضي الله عنه). It will be discussed else where.
In this article, we will discuss the authenticity of this hadith. The seekers of knowledge would understand it and the ego driven dumb heads would try to deceive themselves and others in one way or the other. The hadith is narrated by Ibn Khuzaima in his sahih, Vol 1, Pg 243, Hadith 479 which is as follows

Sahih Ibn Khuzaima, Vol 1, Pg 243, Narration 479.
It is narrated from Abu Tahir who narrated it from Abu Bakr who narrated it from Abu Musi who narrated it from Mu’ammal who narrated it from Sufiyan who narrated it from Asim bin Kulayb and he from his father who narrated it from Wa’il bin Hujr رضي الله عنه who said,


“I offered the Salat with the Prophet 
صلى الله عليه وسلم and he kept his right hand on his left hand, on the chest.”

There are many defects in the chain of narration, but first, we will discuss the wordings in other versions of this hadith.

Note that Ibn Khuzaima has also narrated two more hadith’s in the same chapter, from Wa’il bin Hujr himself on the issue of placing the right hand over the left in salah without the addition of the words, “On the chest.” They are narrated from Ibn Idrees and Ibn Fadl respectively (instead of Muam’mal bin Ismail). Imam Ibn Majah in his Sunan, Vol 2, Pg 21, Hadith 810, English Ed, Darussalam Publications (First Ed), has also mentioned this narration of Wa’il bin Hujr without the addition of the words “On the Chest.” Similarly, Imam Abu Dawud in his Sunan, Vol 1, Pg 427, Hadith 723, English Ed, Darussalam Publications and Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal in his Musnad, Hadith 18891, Cairo Ed, Imam Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban has also narrated the same i.e. without the words, “On the Chest.”

Sahih Ibn Khuzaima, Vol 1, Pg 242-43
Pg 243, Narrations without the words “On the chest.”

Hence, it is clear from the other versions of this hadith that the words, “On the chest” are added by a Sub narrator (Mua’mmal bin Ismail) and doesn’t go back to Wa’il Ibn Hujr.

Now, let us discuss about the chain of the narration containing the words, “On the chest.” The chain is as follow,

اخبرنا ابو طاهر، اخبرنا ابو بكر، اخبرنا ابو موسي، اخبرنا مومل، اخبرنا سفيان عن عاصم بن كليب عن ابيه عن وائل بن حجر

The main narrator in dispute here is Mua’mmal Ibn Ismail. Lets discuss about the condition of this narrator.
He was one of the Shuyukh’s who narrated from the giants like Hammad bin Zaid, Sufiyan Al Thawri, Sufiyan Ibn Uyayna and Fu’dail bin Iyad. He was graded “Trustworthy” by Imam Yahya Ibn Mae’en (Al Jarah Wa Tadeel, Ibn Abi Hatim, Vol 8, Pg 374, Narrator no 1709/ Tadhib Al Kamal, Al Mizzi, Vol 29, Pg 177). But Ibn Abi Hatim himself, after quoting Yahya Ibn Mae’en, said, He is “Truthful” (Saduq), intense in Sunnah but “MAKES MANY MISTAKES”.(Al Jarah Wa Tadeel, Vol 8, Pg 374, Narrator no 1709).

Al Jarah Wa Tadeel, Ibn Abi Hatim, Vol 8, Pg 374.

Ibn Sa’ad in his Tabaqat, Vol 8, Pg 63, Narrator 2482 said, “He is TRUSTWORTHY but makes MANY MISTAKES.” Al Bukhari said, He is “MUNKAR AL HADITH.”(Tarikh Al Sagheer, Vol 2, Pg 279/ Tadhib Al Kamal, Vol 29, Pg 177). Ibn Hibban has mentioned him in his Thiqat, Vol 9, Pg 187 where he also mentioned that He (Mua’mmal) MAKES MISTAKES.” Al Dhahabi in his Al Kashf, Vol 2, pg 309, Narrator no: 5747 said, “His narrations, (some are) sound and (some are) erroneous.”

Ibn Sa’ad, Tabaqat, Vol 8, Pg 63.


Al Dhahabi again in his Tadhib Al Tadhib, Vol 9, g 164, Narrator no 7070 said, “He was a Shaykh of Hadith but made MANY MISTAKES.” Al Dhahabi further says in his Mizan Al Itidal, Vol 4, Pg 228, Narrator no: 8949, that Abu Zuhrah Al Razi said, “He (Mua’mmal) makes MANY MISTAKES.” He said, “He is MUNKAR AL HADITH.” Ibn Hajr in his Tadhib Al Tadhib, Vol 10, Pg 381 said, “He is TRUSTWORTHY but made MANY MISTAKES.”

Al Dhahabi, Mizan, Vol 4, Pg 228.


Many said, “He was a huffaz until his books were buried. Then, he started making mistakes.”[Because he was forced to narrate from his memory] (Tadhib Al Kamal, Vol 29, Pg 178).

Al Mizzi, Tadhib Al kamal. Vol 29, Pg 178.

After reading the above Jarah of the scholars, we can understand that the addition of the words “On the chest.” in the hadith was a MISTAKE. It is also understood from other shawahid narrations from Wa’il Ibn Hujr. This should be enough for a sane Muslim to accept the truth and, not act upon the added words, but Wahhabi’s are known for their ego driven madness. So, we will further discuss the problems in this narration.

The second problem with the chain of narration is Mua’mmal bin Ismail has narrated this from Sufiyan al ThawriIbn Hajr writes in his Fath Al Bari, Vol 13, Kitab Al Adab, chapter 15, Pg 529 that, “The narrations of Mua’mmal bin Ismail from Al Thawri are MAUQUF (Stopped/doesn’t go back). This further weakens the narration.

Ibn Hajr, Fath Al Bari, Vol 13, Pg 529

The third problem with the chain is that, this narration is reportedly narrated from Imam Sufyan Al Thawri رضي الله عنه but it is well known that his stance on the issue of placing hands in salat was in accordance with Imam Abu Hanifa رضي الله عنه. Like Imam al Adham, He didn’t practise Rafa’yadein and tied his hands below the navel. It is seen in Sharah Muslim by Imam Nawawi, Vol 4, Kitab Al Salat, Chapter of tying hands below the navel in Salat, Pg 114,

Abu Hanifa, Sufiyan Al Thawri, Ishaq bin Ruwayah, Ishaq bin Marwazi (رضي الله عنه) were of this position because they had a narration of Imam Ali عليه سلام who said, “Verily, it is from the sunna to place the right hand over the left under the navel”.
Al Nawawi, Sharah Sahih Muslim, Vol 4, Pg 114.


Note: This narration from Hazrat Ali عليه سلام contains a weak narrator but the matn is supported by many Shawahids. That’s why it is acted upon. This will be discussed in an another article if Allah permits.
How can a person like Imam Sufiyan (with such great status and caliber), teach one thing and follow the other. This clearly proves that the words “on the chest”, is an error.
If we observe the text of Sahih Ibn Khuzaima, one would find Imam Ibn Khuzaima commenting on the authenticity of the narrations soon after narrating them. But in this case, we don’t find him commenting anything below the narration. Hence it would be stupidity to believe that every narration in it is sound because it came in a book with the initial “Sahih”.
Important of all, this narration neither has any Shawahids nor is it narrated from any other companion or from another chain of transmission.
1) This narration of Ibn Khuzaima, narrated from Wa’il Ibn Hujr comes with many other chains without the words, “On the Chest.” This is a single narration with these words and hence will be considered as an error based on Usul Al Hadith. Those words are to be considered as Fabrication.
2) Mu’ammal Bin Ismail was a trustworthy Hafiz but he made many mistakes in narrating the hadith, because his books were buried and he was forced to narrate from his memory. This narration seems like one of his mistake.
3) The connection between Mu’ammal Bin Ismail and Imam Sufiyan Al Thawri is Mauquf (broken). Mauquf narrations are weak even near Wahhabi scholars.
4) Imam Al Thawri himself believed in placing the hands below the navel in Salah. How could he narrate something which he doesn’t believe? If this narration is supposed to be sound, then why didn’t he change his stance?
5) Imam Ibn Khuzaima himself remained silent on the soundness of this narration. Hence it cannot be said that Ibn Khuzaima deemed this narration to be sound.

For all the scholars mentioned in this article, “May Allah be pleased with them All.”